SEROWE: In the wee hours of last Sunday at the Lady Khama Hall, 64-year-old Lesego Raditanka exuded energy that some of his peers could not afford. He had just won a bid to represent his party for the eighth time at Kgosing ward.
He danced to the party songs as some of the euphoric party enthusiasts sang and danced while patiently waiting for the results of the Serowe West constituency to be announced.
They were only waiting for the party official figures, as they already knew that Tshekedi Khama had already won from statistics gathered from the constituency’s six wards.
Dimajwe, Kgosing, Serokolwane, Mmashoro, Palamaokuwe and Malatswai, are the six wards that make up Serowe West constituency.
Out of the six wards, Khama had lost the traditional hoodoo area, Malatswai, to his challenger Moemedi Dijeng whilst Keletso Rakhudu, another challenger, did not win a single ward.
The official figures would confirm Khama the winner with 2,797 votes, Dijeng 1,594 votes and Rakhudu trailed via 462 votes.
However that’s not the story.
The story shifts to the energetic Raditanka who is probably the oldest councillor in the country and also probably the longest serving civic leader as he has currently served 39 uninterrupted years in the Central District Council (CDC). At the age of 25 years in 1979, Raditanka won elections at the then Serowe North East ward. He credits being closer to the people all the time as a recipe for his incessant victories.
From Swaneng Hill Secondary School where he completed his Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (COSC) examinations, he joined the Serowe Brigade and trained as a machinist fitter. He graduated with a grade test C.
Instead of practising what he had learnt, Raditanka was absorbed by the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) as an organiser in 1978 for both Serowe South and Serowe North constituencies under Dr Gaositwe Chiepe and Collin Blackbeard, respectively.
He would later work under MPs Roy Blackbeard and Ian Khama. He is currently serving under MP Tshekedi Khama.
“Since my first election in 1979, I have been honest to the people. I have never given them false promises, but instead I depended on the national development plans.
Sometimes we give the electorate promises that we fail to deliver (on),” he told Mmegi. His fear has always been that if he came with his own development plan, it will run parallel to the national development plans and make it difficult for him to deliver.
He is elated that since the government supports constituencies with the constituency fund, which they commit to funding development projects that were not covered in the national development plan.
He is convinced that this has helped them close the visible gaps of development. Raditanka’s success lies in the fact that he simply gives his constituents the party manifesto and national plan for development.
“As a councillor, I only push the projects that are planned for. What is not planned for will find its way in future.”
When he solicits for votes, he approaches the people as a team member and works with them as a servant. “I am a servant of the people and not their master because I represent them and I give them proper feedback on what I have managed and where I have not achieved,” he said emphasising that he does not lie to the people avoiding undue pressure at all times. In his constituents, Raditanka has found a family as they incessantly share their views with him including bogosi in the area who share their schedules of meetings with him all the time.
Sub chiefs in the ward work closely with him and every time they address meetings they involve him.
His popularity in his ward has assisted him to be elected the chairperson of the then Serowe/Palapye Sub District Council for 10 years before he became the chairperson of the Central District Council for another 10 years.
One of the achievements that his leadership effected relates to the decentralisation of responsibilities so that sub district councils could effectively make their plans from their respective sub districts and meet at the district headquarters in Serowe mainly for policy issues.
He holds a strong view that the vast CDC has to further decentralise for effective service delivery. ”Decentralisation will help the sub districts to effectively serve the people, but unfortunately, things have since stalled due to funding,” he declared worriedly.
Next year Raditanka will commemorate 40 years as a councillor. He witnessed the ward he represents change from Serowe North East to Serowe North Central and now its known as Kgosing following delimitation exercises.
He acknowledges that times have changed and the constituents know that councillors are their servants and …“as such we should serve them with diligence.
Taking developments to the people is what we stand for”. In his case, he says, his constituents hardly wait for the elections to punish him for any failures, instead they advise him accordingly to do things right.
“Even in my house I do differ with my loved ones, after all we chart the way forward and smoke a peace pipe.”
Raditanka has observed an undying trend in the three constituencies where he says, the constituents are not punitive, but rather they listen and raise their corrective suggestions to their leaders. “We can differ at times in our constituency, but it’s never misconstrued to mean rivalry,” he said.